G24 INSTA Physics Research SCI

MIT students solve spaghetti breaking mystery

A pair of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers just solved an old physics mystery stemming from the fact that spaghetti noodles almost always break into three or more pieces when broken in half. In particular, they proved that it is possible to break a piece of spaghetti into two pieces.

“For maybe a month, a month and a half, we would just break spaghetti after class, just cover the floor in broken pieces of spaghetti,” said Heisser, who is now a PhD student at Cornell University.

“I thought it would be cool to try and complete something that a famous physicist began,” he continued.

The team used mathematical modeling, a spaghetti-breaking contraption, and a high-tech camera to reveal that by bending and twisting spaghetti pieces, you can break them into two. And apparently, the twist is the most important part.

The reasoning lies in the old discovery that long, thin objects can be broken by applying even pressure at both ends, creating a “snap-back effect.”

“In our study, we go a bit further and show that actually you can control this fracture cascade and get two pieces if you twist it,” Patil said. “You can control the fracture process and then you get two pieces instead of many, many pieces.”

“Just understanding these complex fracture systems would be interesting going forward as well,” he added. “There’s still a lot to be discovered about fracture control and this is an example of fracture control.”

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

PHYS Physics SCI Science

Star, black hole interaction further proves Einstein’s theory

For the first time in history scientists have used a supermassive black hole’s gravitational field to confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity, a new study in Astronomy & Astrophysics reports.

To do this, a team of international researchers analyzed the black hole at the center of the Milky Way — known as Sagittarius A — and a star in its orbit known as S2.

Using a combination of technology, mathematics, and observations, they studied the pair and observed S2 move close to the black hole. During that event, the fiery body acted exactly as predicted by the theory of relativity. 

“This is the second time that we have observed the close passage of S2 around the black hole in our galactic center,” said study co-author Reinhard Genzel, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, according to Science Alert. “But this time, because of much improved instrumentation, we were able to observe the star with unprecedented resolution.”

Three S-stars orbit Sagittarius A, and S2 gets extremely close to the hole every now and then. In the recent study, it moved within just 17 light-hours of the formation.

That is significant because, according to Einstein’s theory, the event should have stretched S2’s light into long wavelengths through a process known as gravitational redshifting.

While it is not easy to observe S2, high-tech telescopes analyzed the star and revealed its light did behave in that way.

The finding falls in line with other recent studies that set out — and failed — to disprove the popular theory.

However, such trials are important because if the theory ever does fail it would drastically alter the way scientists view and understand both the universe and the field of physics. 

“What we hope is at some point we will see something in the galactic centre that we can’t explain with Einstein’s theory – that would be really, really exciting,” said study co-author Odele Straub, a researcher at the Paris Observatory in France, according to BBC News. “Because then we could go back to the drawing board and come up with something better.”

Physics Research SCI

Scientists build a super battery using quantum mechanics

If you are exasperated by waiting hours for your smartphone to charge, a new research project at the University of Adelaide might change that. Ramsay Fellow, Dr. James Quach, wants to use quantum mechanics’ unique properties to build the fastest charging battery in the world.

Dr. Quach is an expert in the field and he said that the possibility of instantaneous charging is on the horizon. He wants to use the entanglement method.

Entanglement is a phenomenon where two entangled objects share their individual properties with each other, even when spatially separated. Performing an action on one object affects the other object.

This occurs at a molecular level, where normal physics laws do not work. According to Quash, it is because of this property that it is viable to speed up the charging process.

His invention is based on a theory that the more quantum batteries the faster they charge. This does not apply to conventional batteries.

For example, if one quantum battery takes an hour to charge, adding another will decrease the time to 30 minutes. Once developed, it might cut charging times to zero.

“Entanglement is incredibly delicate, it requires very specific conditions – low temperatures and an isolated system – and when those conditions change the entanglement disappears,” Quash said. With the support of the academic community in Adelaide, interstate and globally, his goal is to extend the theory of the quantum battery and build a lab conducive to the conditions for entanglement to materialize.


Physics Research SCI

Physicists observe Higgs boson decaying for first time ever

Six years after their discovery, physicists have finally observed the Higgs boson decaying into fundamental particles called bottom quarks. The finding is consistent with the hypothesis that the quantum field behind the Higgs boson provides mass to the bottom quark.

“This observation is a milestone in the exploration of the Higgs boson,” said Karl Jakobs, spokesperson of the ATLAS collaboration. It shows that the ATLAS and CMS experiments have achieved deep understanding of their data and a control of backgrounds that surpasses expectations. ATLAS has now observed all couplings of the Higgs boson to the heavy quarks and leptons of the third generation as well as all major production modes.”

“Since the first single-experiment observation of the Higgs boson decay to tau-leptons one year ago, CMS, along with our colleagues in ATLAS, has observed the coupling of the Higgs boson to the heaviest fermions: the tau, the top quark, and now the bottom quark,” said Joel Butler, spokesperson of the CMS collaboration. “The superb LHC performance and modern machine-learning techniques allowed us to achieve this result earlier than expected.”

With continued research and data, the collaboration will improve the precision of such measurements and continue moving the Higgs boson probe forward.

“The experiments continue to home in on the Higgs particle, which is often considered a portal to new physics,” said CERN Director for Research and Computing Eckhard Elsen. “These beautiful and early achievements also underscore our plans for upgrading the LHC to substantially increase the statistics. The analysis methods have now been shown to reach the precision required for exploration of the full physics landscape, including hopefully new physics that so far hides so subtly.”

The findings were published on the pre-print server arXiv.

Physics Research SCI

Excited atoms illuminate anti-hydrogen research in new study

A new study from CERN breaks new ground in antihydrogen research by increasing the efficiency of its synthesis. This leads to the accumulation of anti-atoms for the first time ever, which increases the scope of experimentation.

“When an excited atom relaxes, it emits light of a characteristic colour, the yellow colour of sodium street lights is an everyday example of this,” said Mike Charlton, co-author of the study.

“When the atom is hydrogen, which is a single electron and a single proton, and the excited electron decays to the lowest energy state from a higher one, the discrete series of ultraviolet light emitted forms the Lyman Series, which is named after Theodore Lyman who first observed this over 100 years ago.”

According to Charlton, the presence of these lines helped provide the foundation of quantum mechanical theory, which is one of the cornerstones of physics today.

“The Lyman-alpha line is of fundamental importance in physics and astronomy,” he said. “For example, observations in astronomy on how the line from distant emitters is shifted to longer wavelengths (known as the redshift), gives us information on how the universe evolves, and allows testing models which predict its future”

The data is another landmark in atomic physics that will pave the way for manipulating the kinetic energies that are trapped in anti-atoms.

“While studies have continued at the Antiproton Decelerator facility at CERN, further refining these measurements and using the techniques to improve our understanding of the antihydrogen through spectroscopy, the ALPHA team will be modifying the apparatus in order to study the effect of Earth’s gravity on the anti-atom,” Charlton said. “The next few months will be an exciting time for all concerned.”

The findings were published in Nature.

NWT_Biology Physics Research SCI TECH

Scientists discover first evidence of matter-matter coupling

A new study from Rice University scientists revealed the first evidence of Dicke cooperativity in a matter-matter system. The findings could help evolve our understanding of quantum magnetism and spintronics.

The team used a magnetic field to induce cooperativity among spins within a crystalline compound created primarily from erbium and iron.

“This is an emerging subject in condensed matter physics,” Kono said. “There’s a long history in atomic and molecular physics of looking for the phenomenon of ultrastrong cooperative coupling. In our case, we’d already found a way to make light and condensed matter interact and hybridize, but what we’re reporting here is more exotic.”

Dicke cooperativity occurs when incoming radiation causes a group of atomic dipoles to couple, much like gears within a motor that don’t touch.

“Dicke was an unusually productive physicist,” Kono said. “He had many high-impact papers and accomplishments in almost all areas of physics. The particular Dicke phenomenon that’s relevant to our work is related to superradiance, which he introduced in 1954. The idea is that if you have a collection of atoms, or spins, they can work together in light-matter interaction to make spontaneous emission coherent. This was a very strange idea.”

“The interaction we’re talking about is really atomistic,” Kono concluded. “We show two types of spin interacting in a single material. That’s a quantum mechanical interaction, rather than the classical mechanics we see in light-matter coupling. This opens new possibilities for not only understanding but also controlling and predicting novel phases of condensed matter.”

The findings were published in Science.

Physics Research SCI

Study discovers flaw in emergent gravity

The theory of emergent gravity posits that gravity is not a fundamental force. Instead, it is an emergent phenomenon that is the result of the collective motion of tiny bits of information located in spacetime surfaces known as holographic screens.

But a new paper suggests that the holographic screen surfaces proposed by the theory don’t behave in a thermodynamic manner, which conflicts with one of the theory’s key assumptions.

“Emergent gravity has very strong claims: that it can explain things like dark matter and dark energy, but also reproduce the decades of work coming out of regular general relativity,” said Zhi-Wei Wang, a physicist at Jilin University in Changchun, China, and co-author of the study.

“That last claim is now knocked on its head by our work, so emergent gravity proponents will have their work cut out for themselves in showing consistency with the huge canon of observational results,” he added. “We’ve set them back, not necessarily knocked them out.”

The team found that certain surfaces, such as those near black holes, obey the first law of thermodynamics. However, others—such as holographic screens—do not.

In the future, the researchers hope to shed light on the implications that the findings have on the theory of emergent gravity.

“We spent a large amount of time working out how to reproduce the original results for black holes from the 1970s,” Braunstein said. “Although the methods from the 1970s were extremely tedious to replicate in detail, we found them very powerful and are thinking now about whether there is any way to generalize these results to other scenarios. Also, we think that our formula for the deviation away from the first law as one moves away from horizons will have important implications for quantum gravity.”

The findings were published in Nature Communications.

Physics SCI

Physicists tied knots in a laser beam to study ‘holes’ in light

A team of physicists used holographic technology to tie knots in polarized light in order to study holes in the beams.

Although laser beams might appear to be single light streams, they are actually vibrating electromagnetic fields. Within these fields are photons that spin in different directions, and polarization describes the multidirectional properties of light.

In order to tie the light beams into knots, the team used the holographic technology that is used by polarized sunglass lens. To put it simply, they spun polarized filters.

“We are all familiar with tying knots in tangible substances such as shoelaces or ribbon,” said Mark Dennis, a physicist at the University of Bristol. “A branch of mathematics called ‘knot theory’ can be used to analyze such knots by counting their loops and crossings.”

“With light, however, things get a little more complex,” he added. “It isn’t just a single thread-like beam being knotted, but the whole of the space or ‘field’ in which it moves.”

And the crossings, crossings, and “holes” are what scientists are most interested in.

“From a maths point of view, it isn’t the knot that’s interesting, it’s the space around it,” Dennis said. “The geometric and spatial properties of the field are known as its topology.”

The team was also able to compare the knots with their real world predictions.

“One of the purposes of topology is to talk about showing data in terms of lines and surfaces,” Dennis said. “The real-world surfaces have a lot more holes than the maths predicted.”

The findings were published in Nature Physics.

Physics Research SCI

Algorithm could uncover physics mysteries, study says

A team of scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created an algorithm that could help physicists answer some of the meaningful questions in proposed by the field of condensed matter. In particular, it will be important for pushing forward the emergent and novel properties in materials.

The algorithm inverts the standard mathematical process that condensed matter physicists usually use to search for new physics, starting with the answer (physical properties) and working backward to the question (the materials that host these properties).

Theoretical condensed matter physics is notoriously difficult for laypeople to understand due to the necessity of understanding material quantum mechanics. It typically begins with a Hamiltonian, which is a mathematical model that calculates the energies of all of the system’s particles.

“For a typical condensed matter problem, you start with a model, which comes out as a Hamiltonian, then you solve it, and you end up with a wave function—and you can see the properties of that wave function and see whether there is anything interesting,” said professor Bryan Clark, senior author of the study.

“This algorithm inverts that process,” he added. “Now, if you know the desired type of physics you would like to study, you can represent that in a wave function, and the algorithm will generate all of the Hamiltonians—or the specific models—for which we would get that set of properties. To be more exact, the algorithm gives us Hamiltonians with that wave function as an energy eigenstate.”

The team believes that the algorithm will help scientists find new physics and models.

The findings were published in Physical Review X.

Physics SCI

Physicist argue there was no Big Bang singularity

The Big Bang theory is about four decades out of date. Scientists are sure there was not singularity associated with the hot Big Bang, and there may not have been a birth to space and time.

When we look out at the Universe today, we can see that it is full of galaxies. We also find that the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be receding from us.

It seems to be receding because the fabric of space is expanding. This means that as time marches on the matter within it spreads out and becomes less dense, since the volume of the universe increases.

If you were to envision back farther and farther in time, you would start to notice major changes in the Universe including an era where gravitation has not had enough time to pull matter into large enough clumps to have stars and galaxies

According to an article in Forbes Magazine by astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, we cannot extrapolate back arbitrarily far to a hot-and-dense state that reaches arbitrary energies. There is a limit to how far we can go and accurately describe the Universe.

In the early 1980s, scientists theorized that before the Universe was hot, dense, expanding, cooling, and full of matter and radiation, it was in a process of inflating. When inflation ended, it converted the energy that was inherent to space into matter and radiation that lead to the hot Big Bang.